FARMINGTON — A Franklin County judge sentenced a Jay man Friday to three years in prison with all but one year suspended and four years of probation for sexually touching a 14-year-old girl.
Shawn Burnell, 21, pleaded guilty in October to a felony charge of unlawful sexual contact and a misdemeanor charge of criminal restraint. He is required to comply with the Maine Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act.
Burnell and several other people, including juveniles, were drinking and smoking marijuana near the old railroad trestle bridge on the Sandy River in Farmington on July 20, Assistant District Attorney James Andrews told Active-Retired Judge Robert Clifford in Franklin County Superior Court.
The victim, who was not drinking or using drugs, went down to see what was going on. Burnell grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her down to a Sandy River beach, Andrews said. Burnell forced his hand inside her clothing, Andrews said.
Burnell had some defense in the case and there were a number of statements by juveniles, which included some discrepancies, Andrews said. If the case had gone to trial, there would have been some contradicting statements, he said.
A victim’s advocate read a statement from the girl, who stood beside her.
It told how the girl has been picked on, kicked and otherwise harmed at school since the incident. One person had even threatened to slice her throat with a knife, the advocate read. The girl has been pushed into areas where she didn’t want to go. In one incident, someone rubbed an eraser up and down her arm until she had burns from it. The advocate read that the girl could no longer go places she wants to go.
“’I don’t get to do anything fun,’” she read.
All the girl wants is to have her life back and not be picked on, the advocate read.
Clifford told the girl that in the event of any future problems, she had the right to bring complaints to law enforcement.
“The law does not allow people to hurt or harass you,” he said.
Burnell also spoke during sentencing.
“I’m taking responsibility for my actions,” he said.
Besides the time in prison and four years of probation, Clifford also ordered Burnell to undergo sexual abuse counseling and to have not contact with the girl or other girls under 16 years old.
He also sentenced Burnell to 30 days on the criminal restraint conviction to be served at the same time as the felony sentence.